Readers, please help us welcome Johanna Raisanen, Associate Editor for American Romance. She's joining us today to kick off our 25th Anniversary Celebration!
Twenty-five years is pretty special. A lot has happened in that time here at Harlequin and with HAR. But along with the changes, some things endure. We’ve noticed readers are drawn to certain themes, characters, and settings, and want to see them over and over. Let’s start with setting because that is one of the key elements that defines HAR novels. While all settings are welcome, the western states are the ones that seem to appeal to our readers the most. Whether it’s the Hill Country in Texas, the Grand Tetons of Wyoming, or the big blue skies of Montana, the land of the cowboy reigns. I don’t think it’s too hard to figure out why, either. These settings represent freedom and wide-open space and adventure, and the characters who inhabit these places are so appealing because they are strong, independent, and self-reliant.
The western setting leads me to the next constant in AR. Ladies, you know what I’m talking about—the cowboy. Those swaggering, horse-riding, Stetson-wearing heroes so many of us sigh over. On a personal note, I’ll confess that for years I didn’t understand the appeal of the cowboy. Living in the city, I had never seen one except in old western movies. Then I was in Vegas one year during the NFR, the National Finals Rodeo, and there were cowboys everywhere. Well, let’s just say, YUM! Hmm. What was I talking about… Oh yes. The enduring appeal of the cowboy hero. These rugged, handsome men are the charmers, the bad boys, and the white knight all rolled up into one. What’s not to love?
Thinking about cowboys brings me to what goes on in the bedroom, and the sometimes unexpected results of what takes place between a man and a woman…. That’s right, I’m talking about babies! All American Romances are about family, and what says family better than adorable babies. I think part of the enduring appeal of babies, kids and pregnant heroines is how they reflect the changes in the hero. The most alpha-est hero can turn to mush when up against a helpless baby. The most rugged cowboy turns protective of a pregnant woman. The baddest of the bad boys can be brought to his knees by a little girl in pigtails. Family, babies, kids. And a man who takes responsibility for his family is the sexiest hero in my book.
American Romance is really about how our families are our shelter in the storm, our armor against an ever-changing world. Family is what makes us stronger, even when individual members drive us crazy. The heroes and heroines in HAR novels are looking for their place in the world, and often that means within a family setting. Think of all the stories of single parents finding a second chance at love, of blended families, extended families—you’ll find them in American Romance. Why? Because family is what matters most.
There are many wonderful stories in American Romance, and all of them celebrate the joys of family, the warmth of community, and the magic of finding your true hero. So, raise a virtual glass with me and let’s toast to twenty-five more years of Love, Home & Happiness with American Romance!